Organs of Greater Lowell

Including Billerica, Chelmsford, Littleton, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro

Prepared by Robert J. Reich (1929-2023), Methuen, Mass.  

Revised to December 8, 2013

        The following list includes all known present and former churches of the area, except for a few recently-organized churches that are presently meeting in commercial or residential type buildings, as well as other organ-holders.  It is intended to include all pipe organs that were ever in regular use in the area.  * in the left margin indicates an organ or substantial change to one already listed;  an organ moved from one church to another or one in a church that has changed hands is listed only once unless significantly modified.  S and P next  to the left margin indicate that a stoplist is at hand and that a photograph has been obtained, respectively.  "nko" indicates no organ known ever to have been there.   Further research is needed in many cases.  The increasing availability of old newspapers has been very helpful and so may continue to add new facts as more appear.

        William B. Goodwin (1858-1945) was a Lowell resident and had studied architecture at MIT.  He was editor of a newspaper in Lawrence, then one in Lowell, and then set up his own newspaper in Lowell, Vox Populi.  He was well known not only locally but nationally as an organ expert.  He did organ tuning and maintenance as well as all aspects of organ design, physical, visual, and tonal.  At times, he was also known to play the organ in church.  He planned many of the new organs that were installed in the Lowell area during the last two decades of the 19th century and first four of the 20th century.  He planned and supervised many of the organ renovations, enlargements, and relocations.  Although several organists were known to have engaged to some extent in the same activities, Mr. Goodwin seems to have been the only professional “Organ Expert” in this country.  His work was frequently recognized or described in newspaper and magazine articles.  His son John A. Goodwin (1917-2012) worked with him at times and continued with part-time organ maintenance for many years after Wm. B. died and, moreover, retained a very large library of organ materials left by his father, some of which is now in the care of the Organ Historical Society in Princton, N.H.  Some facts and details in the following list are credited to “Goodwin” meaning that the information comes from things that John A. remembered or that William B. wrote.

 Valuable assistance is gratefully acknowledged from organ historians Edgar A. Boadway, Alan Laufman, Barbara J. Owen, Martin R. Walsh and John A. Goodwin.

 “L.D.C.” refers to the Lowell Daily Courier whose pages included many articles about organs and many of the details that appear here.  OCH signifies Organ Clearing House.  AOC is Andover Organ Co. 


Lowell:  Advent Christian, began as Second Free Will Baptist, became Second Advent;  bldg. 49 Grand St.;  1953 Assembly of God;  later African Methodist;  entire area part of urban redevelopment, a major federal project which reduced a dozen or more blocks to a state of rubble;  present status of this church unknown.  nko


Lowell:  St. Vartan's Gregorian Armenian, 54 Lawrence St., nko.



First Baptist, church disbanded;  building, formerly Universalist, sold to St. Theresa's R.C., replaced c1950 with new church bldg., old retained as parish hall, still standing in other use.

*         Organ:  Stevens;  L.D.C., 4/2/1884, says “a new organ will be built by Stevens of East Cambridge” but has no details about the instrument.  The organ was discarded at some point in time, probably either when bldg. was sold to the Roman Catholics or when it was converted to a parish hall but definite information seems to be unavailable.        


North Billerica Baptist, bldg. 1871.

        1st organ:  Wm. Goodrich, from First Baptist, Lowell.  Disposition unknown.

*PS         2nd organ:  E. W. Lane, 1898, 2m, 12r;  The Waltham Evening News of 5/13/1898 announced that the contract was in hand, delivery thought to be in 1900.  Case design by Wm. B. Goodwin.

*         3rd organ:  Kershaw c1960, rebuild of Lane, electrification with new windchests and console, significant tonal change;  still in use.




First Baptist,  aka Central Baptist:

 *             1st organ:  L.D.C., 3/2/1889, reports a concert on “the new organ”.

*        2nd organ, Estey #1003, 1912;  said to have been greatly enlarged c1970 by volunteers in the church.


First Baptist

*        1st organ:  Ryder, 1881, $600 (Lowell Courier); otherwise reported as Hamill.

*         2nd organ:  Estey


Blossom St. Baptist, organized as Blossom St. Baptist Mission, 53 Blossom St., later known as Immanuel Baptist (q.v.).

Branch St. Tabernacle, aka Calvary Baptist, organized 1869, known exclusively in recent decades by the latter name.  1st bldg. 1872, 139 Branch St., sold 1909 to Notre Dame de Lourdes R.C.;  2nd bldg. corner of Hastings and Liberty Sts., burned c1950;  3rd bldg., same location.

*PS         1st organ:  Simmons and Wilcox, from The Music Hall, Providence, R. I.,  2m, 22r, 29 drawstops, 1012 pipes, largest but one in the city, rebuilt by Stevens (see L.D.C. 6/16/1888);  the original case as shown in several extant photographs appears to be earlier than 1872;  the changes included at least new case pipes which extended above the wood;  this organ was located in a front gallery.

*PS         2nd organ:  E.W.Lane, 2m, 1906, electric action;  designed by Wm. B. Goodwin;  pipes were mostly from the previous organ;  photograph appeared in newspaper 1909.  Organ first heard on June 26, 1906;  program appears in BOCN, Vol. 2, #1.  This organ burned with the bldg. and was not replaced;  electronic instruments have been in use in the present bldg.


Calvary Baptist, see Branch St. Tabernacle.

Central Baptist, organized ?, in 1851 took over the bldg. on Merrimac St. at Kirk that had been used by First Free Will Baptist.   Combined 1927 with First Baptist to form First United Baptist at the First Baptist bldg.  Confusing and incomplete listings in various sources cast some doubt as to whether Central Baptist and Paige St. Baptist were actually two separate organizations or merely one that had several buildings and different names.  In any case, no organs can be ascribed specifically to Central Baptist.

Chelmsford St. Free Baptist, organized 1/6/1883 as Faith Chapel;  this name taken about 1889;  now known as Chelmsford St. Baptist;  bldg. 1884  (Hurd says 1882), Chelmsford St. at Plain St.

*PS         1st organ, Stevens, 1884, 2m, 11r, 3 additional ranks lacking basses were added to the back of the Great chest by Wm. B. Goodwin.  L.D.C., 2/7/1884, has description of opening concert played by Mr. Stevens, presumably Mr. Solon W. Stevens, organist, rather than George Stevens, organ builder, but both would then appear in the same sentence leaving the matter unclear.

*            2nd organ, Kershaw, c1964, electrification with new console.

Ennell St. Baptist, organized 1898 as French Baptist Mission, recently a

        Hispanic church.  No organ present in 1956 and presumably none ever.

Fifth St. Baptist, organized 1874;  1st bldg. 1874, enlarged 1880, burned 2/26/1979;  2nd bldg. 1980.

*PS         Organ:  J. H. Wilcox #20, c1871, 2-19, from Joseph Ely residence, 1915;

L.D.C., 3/18/1884, has article about rebuilding the church and the church debt, that a good organ is available for $1300, and another in 5/22/1884 refers specifically to the sale of the organ by Mr. Ely to this church;  destroyed by fire 1/26/1979, not replaced by pipe organ.


First Baptist, organized 2/8/1826;  combined 1927 with Central Baptist to form 1st United Baptist at 1st Bapt.;  bldg. 1826, George St. at Church St., seated 1100. 

*      1st organ:  Wm. Goodrich, 1832, 2m, cost $2000, went to N. Billerica Baptist, now gone.

*PS         2nd organ:  George Stevens, c1856, 2-21, revised by Geo. H. Ryder, $600 (Lowell Daily Courier, 4/27/1872 and 5/11/1872);  32 drawstops, improved 1890 by Stevens (see L.D.C., 3/29/1890).

*PS         3rd organ:  Jesse Woodberry & Co., 1900, 3m, Spencer Blower 1918; rebuilt by Laws with new console, perhaps other changes.  Echo division may have been installed originally as part of the Woodberry or added by someone, perhaps Laws, at a later time;  in recent years anyway the Echo has consisted of the former Choir division of  Hook & Hastings #1334 in St. Joseph’s R.C.

*P         4th organ:  C. B. Fisk, c1970, 2m, 22r;  a rebuild of E. &G. G. Hook #195, 1856, 2-30, tracker, from the Church St. Church, New Haven, Conn., utilizing the case from E. & G. G. Hook #180, 1855, Center Cong., New Haven, all with assistance from the Organ Clearing House.  The Echo division from the previous organ remains and is usable.


First Free Will Baptist, aka Paige St. Baptist, organized 1833 at the Hamilton St. School on Merrimac St. at Kirk;  1st bldg. 1837 brick at that location, evicted 1846;  2nd bldg., rented on Prescott St. from First Wesleyan Methodist;  3rd bldg. 1853, new wood bldg. without tower on Paige St., sofas for 850;  in 1925 joined with Central Baptist or changed name to Central Bapt.;  in 1927 joined with First Baptist;  1934 independent again;  1940 gone.  No mention of organs prior to 1853.

*      1st organ:  Stevens, $800, 1854, went to the R.C. cathedral in St. Augustine, Fla., according to Goodwin, and burned there in 1887, 3 ½” water pressure.

*      2nd organ:  Stevens, George, 2-16, 1878, revised by Geo.S.Hutchings, 1881;  L.D.C., 6/27/1881, lists stops added;  enlarged by Goodwin in 1888 and moved to front behind pulpit.

*      3rd organ:  Frazee, #72, 1920, 2m,  2-28 (another source says 20).


First United Baptist, see First Baptist.


Hadley St. Baptist, aka Hadley St. Free Will Baptist and later as Middlesex Village Church (q.v.).


Immanuel Baptist, organized 1893 as Blossom St. Baptist Mission, 53 Blossom St.

*      Organ:  H&H #1193, 1883, from Mrs. Thomas T. Fisher residence, Hartford, Conn.;  went to St. Joseph's R.C., Ballardvale c1955;  removed c1972; altered and now in Bethel Lutheran Church in Green Bay,  WI.


Middlesex Village Church, aka Hadley St. Free Will Baptist, organized 1897;  bldg. 60 Hadley St. 1897, closed 1939, torn down.  Other source indicates bldg. was moved to N. Chelmsford to become St. John's R.C.

*      Organ:  Wm. Goodrich, 1m, disposition unknown.

Mt. Vernon Chapel, Free Will Baptist, organized 1/1/1875;  bldg. at Butterfield c. Mt. Vernon 1873;  1913 church closed, bldg. sold to 1st Evan. Lutheran;  now Orthodox.

*      Organ:  Geo. Stevens, 1888,  2m, destroyed 1964.

Paige St. Free Will Baptist, formerly First Free Will Baptist (q.v.), new name taken after move to Paige St. in 1853.

Second Baptist, aka Worthen St. Baptist (q.v.).

Second Free Will Baptist, organized 1840;  changed theological views and in 1843 became the Second Advent Ch.;  known in later years as the Advent Christian Ch.;  disbanded 1953;  1st bldg. 1842 on Colburn St.;  sold to Third F.W.Baptist;  2nd bldg.,  bought former bldg. of Second Methodist on Suffolk St. more recently used by First Christian;  3rd bldg. 1845,   chapel on Kirk St., given up in 1865;  various rented quarters until 1888, then built at 49 Grand Ave;  this bldg. sold 1953 to Assembly of God;  more recently, African Methodist.  nko

Swedish Baptist, organized 1904;  bldg. on Gorham St. c. Olney ded. 6/1905;  church closed by 1934;  1905 newspaper article mentions organ.

*      Organ:  ?


Third Baptist Society, aka John St. Baptist, organized 1840 at City Hall;  bldg. 1846 John St., brick, seated 640;  church closed in 1861;  bldg. sold 1862 to Central Methodist.

*P         Organ:  Stevens, 1848, first used 1/16/48, (L.D.C. 1/15/48) cost $800;  1915 photograph shows small organ at front left;  looks like 1m Stevens.


Third Free Will Baptist, organized 1843, took over Colburn St. Church from Second Free Will Baptist;  church closed by 1845.


Worthen St. Baptist, aka Second Baptist, organized 1831;  1st bldg. 1833, Lowell and Suffolk Sts., brick, later used by Second Meth., then First Christian, then Second Free Will Bapt., then in 1847 sold to St. Patrick's R.C. for use as a mission church called St. Mary's;   2nd bldg. 1837 at 217 Worthen St., wood, seated 800, burned 1887;  3rd bldg. 1890 same location;  church ceased to exist 1937;  bldg. taken over by St. George Greek Orthodox, burned 1973.        

*      1st organ:  George Stevens 1838, 1m., burned.

        2nd organ:  L.D.C. 11/1/47, reports a fair at Mechanics’ Hall to raise money for an organ.  Not clear whether this organ actually existed.

*      3rd organ:  George Stevens, 2-21.

*P         4th organ:  George H. Ryder #153, 1890, 2-21, rebuild of Stevens;  see L.D.C. 3/13/1890 for report of dedication;  moved 1937(?) to Hillside Cong., Dracut, destroyed 1953.

Note:  It is not clear whether the first organ listed is the one that burned in 1887 or whether a 2m organ replaced the 1st organ prior to the fire.




First Baptist


*       1st  Organ:  Geo. H. Ryder, op. 19, 1m

*      2nd Organ:  Jesse Woodberry, 1907, 2-16,  with a Goodwin-designed case;  rebuilt and electrified by W.W.Laws.  Goodwin said that Woodberry moved the Ryder to St. John's R.C. in N. Chelmsford.







First Christian Society, organized c1835 at Classic Hall;  1839 at Mechanics Hall, 1840 bought bldg. on Lowell St. from Second Meth.;  disbanded by 1845, bldg. sold to Second Free Will Baptist.  nko







FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST,  organized 1896;  used various rented quarters until 1919;  bldg. c. Andover and Nesmith Sts. 1919;  new bldg. c1950 at same location.  nko


SECOND CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, organized 1916, took over bldg. from House of Prayer, Walker St.;  disbanded 1933.

Organ:  probably retained the Ryder organ used by the House of Prayer (q.v.),  Spencer blower, 1915.







FIRST CONGREGATIONAL, organized ? ;  bldg.;  enlarged ? .

        First instrument was a melodeon.

*      1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook, 6r, installed 2nd-hand, 1861.

*      2nd organ:  S.S.Hamill 1892, moved within church 1928, mechanical renovations with some tonal changes 1962 by Andover Organ Co.  In 2009, an electronic instrument was purchased and the organ retired but still present in March, 2010.




First Congregational, organized ? ;  1st bldg. ? , 2nd bldg. c1965.

*      1st organ:  ?

*      2nd organ:  George H. Ryder #186, 1897, 2m, c14r, obtained 1919 from First Trinitarian, Lowell;  this organ may have been a rebuild of an earlier organ;  it had many pipes that appeared older.

*      3rd organ:  Kershaw, c1965, new organ installed in two chambers above the chancel in the new bldg. and containing at least 8 ranks of pipes from previous organ.  Some pipes are marked B.G.&W. #3  and overmarked “GHR #186” which signifies Brennan, Gleason, & White, a firm with which Ryder merged in 1895 indicating these pipes may have been acquired by Ryder from BG&W. 

4th Organ: The 3rd was rebuilt by Stefan Meier of Orange, MA, in 2010.  New console, new Great Mixture, new unified pedal stop.

North Chelmsford Congregational, 17 Princeton St.;  1st bldg.?, burned 1893.

*      1st organ:  ?  burned

*P         2nd organ:  Johnson,  #210, 1886, 2m, 20 stops, 2nd hand, bought 1893 from the Congregational Church of Gardner, moved and revoiced by Goodwin;  see L.D.C., 8/4/1893.

*      3rd organ:  Wm. F. Laws, c1955, chiefly an electrification of previous organ.  A contentious problem developed that led to litigation.




Hillside Congregational, organized ?;  united with First Cong. c1960 at


*      1st organ:  Geo.Stevens, 1847, thought to have come from Kirk St. Cong., Lowell;   rebuilt by Wm.B.D. Simmons, moved to Dracut 1896 by Geo.S.Hutchings, 2-19;  presumed broken up.

 P     2nd organ:  Geo.Stevens, rebuilt by Geo.H.Ryder, 2-21, moved c1937 to Dracut from Worthen St. Baptist, Lowell;  destroyed c1955.


First Congregational, aka The Yellow Meetinghouse.

*      1st organ:  Geo. Stevens, 1850, 2m, $400;  handsome case of 5 sections;

        one of only a few known to have rounded towers.

*P         2nd organ:  AEolian-Skinner #1125, 1947, 2m, 8r, retaining Stevens case;  in use.  This organ has space on the framework for five or six stops in addition to the three 8' stops now present in the Great and four or five in addition to the four stops now present in the Swell.  It seems therefore that the organ as it stands is less than half of what was planned and that presumably the church intended to add the other stops within a few years.  Herein may lie the explanation for the comment heard about this organ that the previous one sounded much better.  (Howard Large)




Congregational Church  

        1st First Organ:  the church has a photograph of a handsome one manual organ;  no details have been learned

        2nd Organ:  Hook & Hastings, #1857m 1899, 2m, 10 ranks;  enlarged by Andover Organ Co. and others




All Souls, Congregational-Unitarian;  organized 1919 by federation of High St. Cong. (q.v.) and First Unitarian (q.v.) at High St. bldg.



Appleton St. Congregational, aka Second Cong. (q.v.), changed name to Eliot Cong. in 1874 at time of move to Summer and Favor Sts.


Eliot Congregational, formerly Appleton St. Congregational, aka Second Congregational (q.v.);  moved c1874 from Appleton St. to a new bldg. at Summer and Favor Sts. and took the new name Eliot Cong. to commemorate the site of the new church where John Eliot had preached to the Indians more than two hundred years earlier;  merged 1956 with First Pres. to form Eliot Pres. at bldg. of Eliot Cong.


Fifth Congregational, aka High St. Congregational, organized 1846;  bought bldg. of St. Luke's Epis. on High St. seating 880;  rebuilt at 58 E. Merrimack St.;  new parish house 1921;  combined 1919 with First Unitarian to form All Souls' at bldg. of High St. Ch.;  merged c1967 with First Cong. and Highland Cong. to form United Church of Christ at bldg. of All Souls'.  This bldg. was constructed in 1845 by St. Luke's Epis., an offshoot of St. Anne's, which disbanded in 1846 before the bldg. was completed.  It possessed an almost unbelievable amount of quasi-Gothic ornamentation which was completely eliminated when the bldg. was reconstructed and enlarged in 1921.

        1st organ:  Goodrich, present in the bldg. when bought from St. Luke's Episcopal in 1846; went to Lancaster, N.H.  L.D.C. (7/25/46). This organ, perhaps second hand and presumably very small, was replaced in 1846.  Boston Musical Gazette 1/18/47 says Stevens;  Goodwin said Goodrich.

*       2nd organ:  Stevens, 1846, present in 1859 according to the City Directory, and cost $1600, went to Newbury, Vt., Cong.

*P         3rd organ:  George Stevens, c1870, 2m, 26r;  (Lowell Daily Courier, 6/10/1872, said it had been much improved);  it was said to be removed when the next organ arrived, put into storage, and eventually broken up, 1923.  One reservoir was said by Goodwin to have been used by Emmons Howard in the Municipal Auditorium organ.

*      4th organ:  E. M. Skinner, #299, 1919, 4m, Echo section in elaborate case located in rear gallery;  some tonal changes by Kershaw;  in use.



First Congregational, organized 1826;  1st bldg. 1827, 240 Merrimack St.;  small steeple, seated 800;  2nd bldg. 1884, same location;  c1967 merged with Highland Cong. and All Souls to form United Church of Christ at All Souls bldg.;  First Cong. bldg. to City of Lowell for elderly affairs.

*         1st organ:  George Stevens, 1843, (Lowell Courier), 6/6/43), $1250.  (Bos. Mus. Gaz. 1/18/47).   It was moved to the rear in 1862 and sold in 1884 to Sacred Hearts R.C. in Lowell (q.v.).

*         2nd organ:  George S. Hutchings #144, 1885, 3-40, 32r, $5965.

*         3rd organ:  Frazee #62, c1920, electrification and enlargement, 4-48;  exists almost unplayable, damaged by vandalism and lack of maintenance.  The Hutchings case is quite spectacular.  At present, it is said to be for sale and must be removed soon.


First Trinitarian Congregational, offshoot of First Cong., 1897 (claiming to be the original church organized 1826);  bldg. on Dutton St. near Merrimack;  consolidated with First Cong. 1919.

*         Organ:  George H. Ryder #186, 1897, 2m, c14r, possibly a rebuild of an older organ;  it contained several older ranks of pipes;  sold to Chelmsford Cong. (q.v.).


Fourth Congregational, aka Kirk St. Cong. (Mr. Blanchard's Church);  organized 5/21/1845;  bldg. 1846, Kirk St., white wood, no tower, seated 853;  1872 front of bldg. moved out 6 feet;   1916 torn down for new high school.  The furnishings, including organ and furnace, were moved to Central Methodist whose bldg. was shared by the two congregations.  After much wrangling and recrimination, this arrangement was terminated in 1919 when the Kirk St. Church com- bined with Eliot Cong. to form Eliot Union Church at the Eliot bldg.

*PS         1st organ:  George Stevens, 1846, 2m, 19reg., 1238 pipes, $1800;  it was dedicated 7/25/1846.

*         2nd organ:  Wm. B. D. Simmons rebuild of Stevens organ;  1879, rebuilt and moved by Hutchings to Hillside Cong., Dracut.

*         3rd organ:  Ryder, 1896, $4000 plus old organ;  said to have been moved to Central Meth. in 1916 (Goodwin says Hillside Cong., but the latter had the remains of a different organ when seen in the 1950s).   Disposition unknown.


French Congregational, organized 7/3/1877;  1st bldg. burned 1879;  2nd bldg. 1881, Fletcher St. at Bowers;  church closed 1920;  bldg. taken over by St. George Syrian Orthodox.

        Organ:  none present in 1956.


High St. Congregational, aka Fifth Cong. (q.v.).


Highland Cong., organized 1884;  1st bldg. 1884 wood;  2nd bldg. 1888 Westford at Canton, torn down 1970;  church merged with 1st Cong. and All Souls in 1969 at All Souls bldg.

*PS         Organ:  Cole & Woodberry 1892;  2m, 17r;  tonally revised 1958 by R.J.Reich, 19r;  removed 1969;  installed 1974 at St. John's Epis., Kirkland, Washington, through services of the Organ Clearing House.


John St. Church, aka Third Congregational (q.v.).


Kirk St. Church, aka Fourth Congregational (q.v.).


Pawtucket Church, organized 1797 as West Congregational Society of Dracut;  1819-1837  known as Presbyterian of Dracut, then again as West Cong. Soc., in 1880 known as the Pawtucket Church;  1st bldg. 1797, Mammouth Rd., burned 1899;  2nd bldg. 1899, brick.

*         1st organ:  George Stevens 1850, $400, 1m, 6r, no pedal;  in use in 1887;  went to organist E. A. Barrell for use in a choir room in Newton and later at Grace Epis. in New Bedford.

*         2nd organ:  ?  burned 1899.

*PS         3rd organ:  James Cole #281, 1905, 2m, 18r;  (2012) in use sporadically owing to lack of funds to hire organist.


Second Congregational, aka Appleton St. Congregational, organized 1831;  1st bldg. 1831 on Appleton St., $15000, stone, no tower, seats 853, sold to First Presbyterian;  2nd bldg. 1874, Summer and Favor Sts., 1st service 1/1/75;  changed name to Eliot Cong. at time of move;  1919 merged with Kirk St. Cong. to form Eliot Union Church at bldg. of Eliot Church;  c1958 merged with First Pres. at Eliot Church to form Eliot Presbyterian.

*         1st organ :   Holbrook & Ware, 1834, $1200;  went to Meredith, N.H., Cong. where it eventually received a detached console with tracker action but was replaced c1958 with reuse of one rank.

*P         2nd organ:  George Stevens c1852, $1400, sold 1874 with the building to 1st Pres.  Apparently, this organ remained with 1st Pres. in the Appleton St. building and Eliot Cong. was without an organ for three years.

*P         3rd organ:  George Stevens 1878, $3500, 2-26 (date and price from a notation inside the organ written by Wm. B. Goodwin;  (Lowell Daily Courier, 7/30/1875, gives a stoplist and other details as well as the price as $4500).  L.D.C., 4/1/1880, mentions Boston Water Motor Co. blower in use.

*         4th organ:  Goodwin, 1891, "revoiced, 3 1/2" wind" (notation inside organ);  except for case, destroyed 1947 when Allen electronic installed.

        5th organ:  Austin, #1369, 1926, 2m, 17r, moved from First Pres. (q.v.) when the two churches combined;  console removed c2005, electronic instrument presently in use.  This church, now Eliot Pres., had an evil pastor who frequently spoke of his determination to get rid of the organ in favor of something modern and finally succeeded.


Swedish Congregational, organized 1886, later called Covenant Cong.;

        believed disbanded c1970;  bldg. at 61 London St.

*         1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #2 1829, came c1869  from Burlington, Vt., Cong. or Epis., via Billerica, Mass., Unitarian;  1m, 10reg., presumed destroyed.

*         2nd organ:  Wicks;  disposition unknown.


Third Congregational, org. 1832, the third church in the city;  in 1834, known as First Free Church, in 1837, 3rd Church; used former Methodist bldg. at Market and Suffolk Sts. for a time, then various rented quarters, disbanded 1838.  nko


Third Congregational, aka John St. Congregational, org. 5/9/1839;  bldg. 1839 at John and Paige Sts.;  white wood with steeple, seated 1000, rebuilt 1846 and 1871;  disbanded 1905.

*         1st organ:  George Stevens, 1843, $1200, went to Avon (East Stoughton), Mass., R.C., for $625 (L.D.C., 12/22/1887).

        2nd organ:  George Stevens, 2-14 (Goodwin)

*SP         3rd organ:  George S. Hutchings #171 1887, 2m, 43reg, $6361.19;  L.D.C., 9/3/1887, and 11/19/1887, provides some information about the organ;  moved to St. Paul's Methodist 1903;  after a fire in 1907, repaired and enlarged  by Goodwin;  in use at the latter church until it closed c1995;  organ for sale as of 1/2007;  dismantled and removed 2008.  A copy of the dedication program (12/4/87), including stoplist, is at the Lowell Museum;  also program of special exhibition played 11/28/87 by William Horatio Clarke.


United Church of Christ, formed c1967 by merger of First Congregational, All Souls Church, and Highland Cong. (q.v.).

        Organs:  see Fifth Cong.


Pelham, N.H., Congregational

*P         1st organ:  George Stevens, 1859, 2m, $569;  moved to front 1889, case widened to fill available space by adding two case sections to the original three but in a style somewhat different;  see L.D.C. 1/16/1890 for report of rededication.

*         2nd organ:  Wm. W. Laws, 1940, 2m, 5 rank Austin unit with new console installed behind Stevens case.


Tewksbury, Congregational

*P         1st organ:  (old photo shows tracker organ possibly Stevens, but if so rather different than usual);  burned.

*S         2nd organ:  Frazee c1950, 5r unit, pipes behind curtain in front;   console moved to rear gallery at some time.


Tyngsboro Evangelical (Congregational)

*PS         1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook, #359, 1865, 1m, 13reg., from Chatham, Mass., Methodist;  went to Calvary Baptist, Haverhill where it was damaged in a fire c1990, and in 1998 through the Organ Clearing House to Columbia, S.C., Christ the King Lutheran;  moved and restored by Andover Organ Co.

*PS         2nd organ:  Hook & Hastings #1193, 1883, 2m, 7r, originally in the residence of Mrs. Thomas T. Fisher, Hartford, Conn.;  subsequently installed at Ballardvale (Andover), St. Joseph's R.C., (q.v.).







St. Andrew's,  North Billerica (St. Anne's?).

*         1st organ:  Wm. Goodrich, 1m.

*         2nd organ:  Estey #524, 2m, 1907.

*         3rd organ:  Williams unit 3r (?), 2m;  rebuild of Estey?





All Saints,

*         1st organ:  James Cole, c1905 tracker, 2m, 7r;  largely destroyed by Kershaw, parts now in a 1m residence organ in Brookline through Organ Clearing House.

*         2nd organ:  Rostron Kershaw, c1960, 3m;  installed in new church, new console, Great chest Estey, Swell chests H&H, pipes from both and others as well;  removed fall 1998 by OCH, sold to R. Rutz.

*         3rd organ: old tracker organ of unknown make installed c1985 in the chapel which is the original church.

*       4th organ:  M.P.Moller, 3m, rebuilt by Orgues Letourneau, 1998, retaining some pipes of the Kershaw organ.




House of Prayer, organized 1876;  very "high";  bldg. on Walker St. opened 12/1876;  closed 1912;  reopened 1913 as St. Luke's Mission, finally closed 1914;  bldg. rented 1916 to Christian Science Society until 1933; torn down c1950.

*         Organ:  George H. Ryder #64, 1876, 2m, 7r;  disposition unknown.


St. Anne's, organized 2/24/1824 as the company church when the first mills were built.  For many years, groups withdrew to form new churches of various denominations, being constantly replaced by new workers arriving in the city.  Bldg. 1825 on Merrimac St., stone, seated 825;  enlarged 1843.  (Lowell Courier, 7/25/40), says that St. Anne’s has been crowded for some time and so the Episcopal Society has set up “New Hall, in Wyman’s Exchange” for services and placed in it “a new and excellent organ”.   Whether this was a temporary expedient or was continued for a substantial period of time is not known but it may imply another organ not listed below.

*         1st organ:  Wm. Goodrich 1828;  to Hudson, Mass.

*P         2nd organ:  Wm. Stevens 1853, 2-24, $643 plus old organ;  1859 city directory says organ then in use cost $1200;  modified by Ryder, Hutchings, Goodwin, Coburn, at several different times;  installed in Metcalf residence, probably by Goodwin;  now 3m in Centralville Methodist where it retains such original characteristics as a 17 note pedal keyboard.  See L.D.C., 11/13/1886.

*PS         3rd organ:  Hook & Hastings #1231 1884 3-39, 30r. L.D.C., 7/11/1884, says it is the first three manual organ erected in a Lowell Protestant church and, on 6/13/85, includes a stoplist and other comments.

*         4th organ:  W.W.Laws electrification 1929, tonal revisions 1972 by Wilson Barry with addition of Echo division.

*         5th organ:  Hilborne L. Roosevelt #57 1881 installed in chapel 1979;  from Evans Mills, N.Y., formerly in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., Dutch Reformed, through services of OCH.


St. John's, organized 1860;  bldg. on Gorham St. 1861, stone, tower removed c1950 with gruesome visual results.

*         1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #293 1861, 1-14, rebuilt by George H. Ryder as his #9 for Plymouth, Mass., Methodist, later replaced by Estey and presumed destroyed.

*PS         2nd organ:  George H. Ryder #3, 1871, (first used 3/30/72),  description and some details reported in Lowell Daily Courier, 3/30/1872, 2-24;  somewhat modified by Goodwin but in current use;  reed stops removed c1970, reportedly by Wilson  Barry, now in storage on attic floor.


St. Luke's, aka Second Episcopal, organized 1839;  bldg. 1845 at High and Merrimack Sts.;  church disbanded 1846, sold bldg. to Fifth Congregational.

*         Organ:  Wm. Goodrich, went to Lancaster, N.H. or Newbury, Vt. (Goodwin).  Newbury Cong. did have a 1m second-hand organ.








 Trinity, formerly in Lowell (q.v).

*         1st organ:  Electric action, perhaps Wicks, destroyed by water.

*         2nd organ:  G.S.Hutchings #502, 1900, 2-7, from Epis. (formerly Universalist), Plymouth, N.H., where it had been installed second hand by Hutchings Organ Co.;  later in Epiphany Episcopal, Newport, N.H.;  later in Gilbert Stockwell residence;  installed here and rebuilt in 1978 by Stuart Organ Co. as their opus 18;  through the services of the Organ Clearing House.




First Evangelical:  Swedish, organized 1906;  in 1913 took over bldg. of Mt. Vernon Baptist;  disbanded by 1957;  bldg. now Orthodox;  largely destroyed by fire 4/25/99.

*         Organ: George Stevens, 2m, destroyed c1964.


Swedish Lutheran, later Trinity Lutheran;  organized 5/23/1882;  1st bldg. 1885, Meadowcroft near Moore St.;  sold to 7th Day Advent;  2nd bldg. c1970, Chelmsford (q.v.).

*         1st organ:  #205 on the Hook & Hastings second hand list, installed in 1894, a Stevens of 2m and 24s, assumed destroyed.

*         2nd organ:  Morton, theatre organ, rebuilt, perhaps installed by Kershaw;  not moved to new bldg.







West Chelmsford Methodist, bldg. 1888, nko


South Chelmsford Methodist, old bldg., nko


East Chelmsford Methodist, formerly Zion Primitive Methodist in Lowell (q.v.);  3rd bldg., Rt. 3A., East Chelmsford

        Organ:  see Zion P.M., Lowell





Central Methodist, organized 4/1854;  shared bldg. with Kirk St. Cong. 1916-1919;  closed 1924;  1st bldg. at Merrimac and Central Sts. bought from Second Wesleyan Meth. that was built by Third Universalist in 1844 or -5, later known as Barrister's Hall and eventually torn down;  2nd bldg., at John and Paige Sts., bought in 1862 from Third Baptist, torn down after church closed in 1924.

*         1st organ:  in 1st bldg., cost $200 second-hand.  Not known whether it was installed by Central Methodist or was bought from the previous owners of the bldg.

*P         2nd organ:  1859 City Directory says organ cost $800 so this may be a second organ in the first bldg. but presumably moved to the second bldg. in 1862 and appearing in a 1915 photograph.

        3rd organ:  the Ryder from Kirk St. Cong. moved in 1916 when the two churches combined, perhaps installed in rear with previous organ remaining in front.

        4th organ:  Wm. A. Johnson #55, 1856, 2m, 24reg.;  from Worthen St. Meth. (q.v.) moved in 1921. 

        It seems unlikely that both the 3rd and 4th organs were really installed in this church and there is no clear evidence that either one was.  Goodwin says a Stevens from this church went to Whitinsville.


Centralville Methodist, organized 6/19/1887;  bldg. 1889 at Bridge and Hildreth Sts., brick.

*PS         Organ:  Wm.Stevens from St. Anne's Epis., 1854, c1905, 3-33, by way of Metcalf residence, rebuilt by Ryder, Hutchings, Goodwin, and Coburn;  in use.


First Methodist, aka St. Paul's Meth.;  organized 1826;  1st bldg. at Elm and Central Sts., later moved to Prescott St.;  2nd bldg. 1839 on Hurd St., brick, square tower, seated 1200;  church closed c1998;  sold c2002 and reconstructed for commercial purposes.

*         1st organ:  Joseph Alley, 1m, sold to Grace Church Epis., Lawrence.

*P         2nd organ:  George Stevens 1846, $1400, 2-18, moved to front in 1860, sold to First Primitive Meth. for $400 and moved by Jesse Woodberry.

PS         3rd organ:  George S. Hutchings #171, 1887, originally $6500, bought for $2500, moved 1903 by Jesse Woodberry from John St. Cong., 2-38; damaged by fire in Jan., 1907, repaired by Wm. B. Goodwin.  Organ renovated by Andover Organ Co. c1990;  sold for parts to unknown party 2009.


First Swedish Methodist Episcopal, organized 1892, later called Fellowship Methodist;  bldg. 1894;  perhaps still in existence but no evidence of any organ has been found.


First Wesleyan Methodist, organized 1843 on Bartlett St., breaking away from First Meth. on the slavery issue;  bldg. 1843 moved old First Meth. bldg. from Chapel Hill to Prescott St. where the church was known as the Prescott St. Church;  church closed in 1851 or earlier and sold bldg. to First Free Will Baptist in that year.  nko


Highland Methodist, aka Highland Union Meth., organized 3/12/1875, as Loring St. Meth.; merged 1980 with St. Paul's Meth.;  bldg. 1876.

*PS         Organ:  Hutchings, Plaisted & Co. #105, 1881, 2-16, 10r,  $1250, installed left front, moved later to center;  L.D.C., 7/5/1882, provides a few details;  sold 1980, rebuilt by P. A. Beaudry and installed 1981 in Newton, Mass., United Methodist through OCH.


St. Paul's Methodist;  see First Methodist.


Second Methodist, became Worthen St. Methodist (q.v.), organized before 1832;  1st bldg. before 1832 on Lowell St. at Suffolk, a large house, sold 1840 to First Christian;  2nd bldg. 1840, Suffolk St. near Lowell, bought from Second Bapt., sold to St. Mary's R.C.;  3rd bldg. 1842 at 200 Worthen St.

        Organ:  ?


Second Wesleyan Methodist, aka Prescott St. Church, organized 1843, disbanded 1858;  1st bldg., 1843, rented from Worthen St. Methodist the bldg. originally built by Worthen St. Baptist;  sold in 1849 to St. Patrick's R.C.;  met in Merrimack House Hall 1849-1853;  2nd bldg. 1853 on Merrimack St. at Central from Third Universalist;  3rd bldg. 1855 Prescott St. Church from First Free Will Baptist;  church disbanded by 1858.

Organ:  1855 "one of the finest toned organs in the city";  this may be           the organ listed as a Stevens for First Free Will Baptist.


Third Methodist, organized 1842 at Mechanics Hall, 1855 built stone bldg. on Merrimack St.;  disappeared from records soon thereafter. nko


Worthen St. Methodist, formerly Second Methodist (q.v.), organized 1824, 1841 reorganized as Worthen St. Methodist, 1854 Third Methodist separated;  first bldg. 1827;  bought second bldg. 1838 from the Baptists;  built 3rd bldg. 1842, at 200 Worthen St., seated 850, wood, no tower;  church closed 1920;  1923 bldg. was Worthen St. African Methodist until 1930;  in 1924 it was Church of All Nations, Methodist, Greek and Syrian until 1946;  then became Lowell Girls' Club.

*P         Organ:  Wm. A. Johnson #55, 1856, 2-24, 19r, $1300; 1869, moved from rear to front;  rebuilt by George Stevens, 1890,  (Lowell Daily Courier, 11/16/1880, says organ is to be extensively improved by George Hedrick);  again, L.D.C. of 2/8/1890 says “the organ has been entirely made over” with new pipes added and changes to the façade.  Spencer blower 1926, moved 1921 to Central Methodist (q.v.). Disposition unknown.





Graniteville Methodist

*         Organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #423, 1867, 2m, 26reg., from Lowell, 1st Unitarian;  destroyed c1940 but facade remained for many years until purchased c1980 by Andover Organ Co. and installed 1987 in Trinitarian  Congregational, North Andover.  Note:  Wm. B. Goodwin's list seems to indicate that an earlier organ, E.&G.G.Hook #9, 1832, 2m, 24reg., also went from the same church in Lowell to this church but no confirmation has been found;  a reading or copying error is suspected.







Church of the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox, organized 1926, 25 Clark St. at Hancock.  nko


Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox, organized 1907;  bldg. at 107 Lewis St. at Jefferson.  nko


St. George Greek Orthodox, 1937 took over Worthen St. Baptist bldg.; burned c1968;  1969 took over First Grace Universalist bldg.

        1st organ:  Geo. H. Ryder (see Worthen St. Baptist), removed to Dracut and probably never used by this church.

        2nd organ:  George Stevens (see 2nd Universalist);  this organ was located in a side gallery and was allowed to remain although not known to have been used;  no recent information but thought to exist.  It was known to be for sale at a high price several years ago and may be still.


St. George Syrian Orthodox, took over bldg. of French Cong. in 1920. nko







Eliot Presbyterian, formed c1956 by merger of 1st Presbyterian (q.v.) and Eliot Congregational (q.v.) at Eliot bldg.


First Presbyterian, organized 6/23/1869;  meetings had been held as early as 1859 in Mechanics Hall;  merged c1956 with Eliot Cong. to form Eliot Pres. at the Cong. bldg.;  1st bldg. bought 1873 for $15,000 from Appleton St. Cong., 2nd bldg. 1956 obtained by merger with Eliot Congregational at the Eliot bldg.;  1st bldg. torn down.

*         1st organ:  Goodrich, 2ndhand, moved to Rockland, Me.

        2nd organ:  George Stevens c1855;  bought with the Appleton St. building when it was bought from Appleton Street Congregational;  believed destroyed in 1926. 

        3rd organ:  Austin #1369, 1926, 2m;  moved in 1956 to Eliot bldg.,from that of First Presbyterian;   one stop changed by Andover Organ Co. (it needed a 2” stop as it had none.)  Said to have been destroyed 12/2007 although old Stevens case remains.


Westminster Presbyterian, (Canadian), United Presbyterian, organized 2/26/1888;  merged 1930 with First Presbyterian;  bldg. 1892 at 23 Tyler St., torn down after merger of the national Presbyterian chuches.  nko







Berean Primitive Methodist, aka Lawrence St. P.M.;  organized 1886 at Zion P.M., became independent 1897;  now called Lawrence St. Methodist;  1st bldg. 1887 Moore St. near Lawrence St.;  2nd bldg. Lawrence St. near Morton.

        Organ:  ?  Said to have had an organ at one time but not within at least 60 years.


First Primitive Methodist, aka Zion Prim. Meth. (q.v.).


Lawrence St. Primitive Methodist, aka Berean Prim. Meth. (q.v.);  an article in the Lowell Sun, 12/11/1893, refers to the dedication of an organ recently moved from the old Odd Fellows Hall to the Primitive Methodist Church.  The pastor was identified as Rev. Mr. Yarrow but

        the church is not otherwise identified.  We think it must be this one since the other already had an organ.  The organ was “refitted, repainted and adapted” by Prof. Mirault but nothing else is known of it and no information has been discovered about organs in any of the several Odd Fellows Halls (at least four).


Matthews Memorial Primitive Methodist, formerly Zion Prim. Meth. (q.v.).


Zion Primitive Methodist, later called 1st Primitive Methodist, later called Matthews Memorial Primitive Methodist;  organized 1870, disbanded 1875, reorganized 1879;  1st bldg. 1871 Gorham St. at Congress, sold 1904 to St. Anthony's Portuguese R.C.;  2nd bldg. 1904 Gorham St. corner of Ellsworth, now a Spanish congregation;  3rd bldg. c1970, Rt. 3A, Chelmsford.

*         1st organ:  Stevens, 1m;  at front side, 2nd-hand?;  moved to second bldg.?

 P         2nd organ:  Stevens, 2m, 18r or reg., 2nd-hand from St. Paul's M.E., installed 1906 by Wm. B. Goodwin.  Other source says Simmons.

*       3rd organ:  Jellinak of Pittsburg, 2m and 8 ranks, using supply house chests and one set of pipes from the previous organ;  case of Stevens not retained.








St. Andrew's R.C., est. 1868, Talbot and Colson Sts., N. Billerica.

*         1st organ:  Stevens, 1851, 1M, 12 drawstops, purchased for $500 from First Universalist of Fitchburg which had just obtained the Hook organ from Shattuck St. Universalist of Lowell.  See L.D.C., 10/11/1886.

*          2nd organ:  Estey #524, 1907, 2m., tubular pneumatic.  The church now uses an electronic keyboard and the organ is assumed destroyed.


St. Mary's R.C., est. 1937, 796 Boston Rd. nko


St. Theresa's R.C., est. 1945, Boston Rd. at Concord Rd.;  first bldg. formerly used by Billerica Baptist, originally Universalist;  2nd bldg. c1950 near 1st bldg. which was retained for parish use.

        Organ:  May have retained the small Stevens organ of the Univ-           

        ersalists.  See Billerica, First Baptist.





St. John the Evangelist R.C.,  est. 1893;  1st bldg., said to have moved building of former Middlesex Village Church (Baptist) from Hadley St., Lowell, to N. Chelmsford;  later torn down;  2nd bldg., 115 Middlesex St., c1960.

        1st organ:  may have retained Goodrich organ that was in the Hadley St. bldg.

*         2nd organ:  George H. Ryder #19, 1M, said to have been moved in 1907 from First Baptist in Tewksbury, Spencer blower, 1919. 

*S         3rd organ:  Wm. Patchell c1960, 2m, using supply house chests with pipes from various sources.


St. Mary's R.C., Chelmsford Center;  1st bldg. ?;  2nd bldg. c1965, 25 North Road;  two Allen electronic instruments, 3m in gallery, 2m in chancel, interconnected.

        Organ, in first building, ?




St. Francis. R.C., est. 1963, 890 Methuen St., recently dedicated second bldg.;  no pipe organ in either one.


St. Mary of the Assumption R.C., est. 1909, 1868 LakeviewAve., scheduled to merge with St. Therese in 1999. nko.

*       Organ:  Laws


St. Therese R.C., est. 1927, 1340 Lakeview Ave., scheduled to merge with St. Mary of the Assumption in 1999. nko.





Church of the Sacred Heart R.C., est. 1884, 159 Moore St., lower church dedicated 1885, upper church 1896.

*         1st organ:  In lower church, Stevens, 2m, 17reg., 2nd-hand, 1884, from First Congregational, installed by Hook & Hastings.

*P         2nd organ:  In upper church, Simmons, 3m, 52reg., 2nd-hand, installed 1901 by Hutchings.  Both organs were displaced by Ham-

        monds c1950.  The only known photograph of the Simmons is taken from a newspaper picture showing a reporter's pencil sketch.  A Spencer blower was installed 1919.


Holy Trinity R.C., est. 1904, 350 High St., wood.

*PS         Organ:  Simmons?  There remains a fine case with structure and two manual windchests of an organ that contained about 25 ranks. This information is about 25 years old.   It was vandalized 193? in favor of a Hammond which in turn has been replaced by two subsequent electronic instruments.  Stoplist is derived from the windchests and is tentative.  A  Spencer blower was installed 1916.


Immaculate Conception R.C. est. 1869, 144 E. Merrimack St.  The original name was St. John's, changed 1872;  scheduled to absorb St. Joseph's (Lithuanian) in 1999.  1st bldg., St. John's Hospital Chapel (q.v.);  2nd bldg. adjacent, lower church 1872, upper church 1877, stone.

        1st organ:  S. S. Hamill, 1m, 5r, in 1st bldg., made from old parts;  probably moved to 2nd bldg. in 1872.  See St. John's Hospital.

*         2nd organ:  E.&G.G.Hook & Hastings #868, 1877, 3m, 54reg, 40r, installed in rear gallery.  L.D.C., 4/1/1880, mentions blower by Boston Water Motor but does not say whether front or rear.

*         3rd organ:  Hutchings, Plaisted & Co. #69, 1877, 3m, 52reg, 43r, installed behind the altar.  Lowell Daily Courier reported organ under construction, 1/31/1872 and 2/26/72.  Although it had an opus number, this organ was not included on later opus lists of the Hutchings firm and does not appear in any newspaper reports that have been found.  Hence, it must be assumed that the contract may have been cancelled and it may be that whatever had been constructed in the factory was diverted to other contracts.

*         4th organ:  Wm. B. Goodwin, c1905;  believed to have been an elec-

        trification of organs 2 and 3 with extensive additions, all playable from a new console in the rear and perhaps from another in the front.  This organ was said to have been the only one in the world to contain a 128' stop and was listed as one of the 50 largest organs in the world.  See L.D.C., 9/10/1914, for comment about 128’ stop.  Goodwin was cited by the Pope for his outstanding work. If indeed there was no organ #3, then the 4th organ consisted of the second organ and whatever Goodwin added to it.

*         5th organ:  in lower church, Cole & Woodberry (Goodwin says H&H), perhaps incorporating portions of the first organ;  electrified by Wm. W. Laws;  rebuilt and installed 1979 in Fairhaven, Mass., Cong., by Roche Organ Co.

*         6th organ:  Wm. W. Laws, c1936, a new console for the rear gallery organ with removal of almost all of Goodwin's additions.  The front organ, if any, disappeared presumably at this time, there being no provision for it in the new console.  All of the Hook & Hastings would appear to have been retained but in more recent years most of the reeds and mixtures as well as the entire Choir have disappeared.  Even the sad remains are seldom used now since the choir and cantor are in the front accompanied by a much overdriven electronic keyboard.


Notre Dame de Lourdes, est. 1908;  1st bldg. formerly Branch St. Tabernacle (Baptist) (q.v.);  2nd bldg. Middlesex St.;  3rd bldg. c1965, 101 Smith St.

 P         1st organ:  George Stevens, acquired in the bldg. from the Baptists, Spencer blower 1914.

        2nd organ:  Hutchings, Plaisted, & Co. #47/51, 1875, 2m, 30 reg., in 2nd bldg., moved from First Universalist, 1945.  Goodwin.

        3rd organ:  Hook & Hastings #1354, 1887, 3m, 41reg., second-hand from St. Joseph's R.C. on Lee St. (q.v.);  moved and electrified c1950 by Rostron Kershaw.  The Choir division became the Echo at First United Baptist (where it exists) and was presumably not ever present at Notre Dame.  In 1974 this organ was destroyed.


St. Anthony's R.C., est. 1901, a Portuguese Parish;  1st bldg. Gorham St. at Congress St., bought from First Primitive Methodist, torn down;  2nd bldg. believed to be the temporary bldg. constructed by St. Peter's R.C. in 1883;  3rd bldg. c1980, 893 Central St. on the site of the previous bldg.

        Organ:  George Stevens, 1883 (?), 1m, 5r, acquired with second building (see St. Peter’s), not moved to third bldg.;  said to have been moved to St. Margaret's but never appeared there;  presumed destroyed.


St. Columba's R.C., est. 1910, name changed 1925 to Shrine of St. Rita (q.v.).


St. Jean Baptiste R.C., est. 1889, bldg. 307 Merrimack St., lower church 1890, upper church 1896;  major fire 1912;  parish suppressed c1980;  bldg. now Nuestra Senora del Carmen.

*         1st organ:  lower church, Stevens 2-15 rebuilt and installed by George H. Ryder.  Not present within recent decades, disposition unknown.

*P         2nd organ:  upper church, Jesse Woodberry & Co., 3-32, c1908, badly damaged by fire 1912.   

*P         3rd organ:  Reconstruction under direction of Goodwin by Frazee,  with many additions, perhaps including a large organ in front;  listed by Frazee as 4-112 although confirmation of the existence of a front organ is lacking.  Such a large organ could not have been installed in the rear gallery which had been much diminished in the reconstruction.  Paul LeTendre, organist of the church in the 1950-60 period as well as an organ technician, said he had never heard of an organ being in the front.

*         4th organ:  Kershaw, 1952, 3m, 33s, 41r;  rebuild of previous organ retaining most of the Woodberry with some changes.  None of the front organ, if any, remained.  The blower operated on 500 volts direct current which was no longer supplied after about 1970 so the organ has not been used since then although still present in recent years.   Several electronic instruments have been in use in recent years with worship normally in the lower church only.



St. Jeanne d'Arc R.C.,  est. 1922, 135 Fourth Ave.

*         Organ:  Estey #2783, 1929, 2m;  damaged by water c1970;  not retained in bldg. renovations c1985.


St. John's R.C., name changed to Immaculate Conception (q.v.).


St. John's Hospital Chapel,

*         1st organ:  S.S.Hamill, 1m, 5r., disposition unknown.

*         2nd organ:  Wurlitzer, came in 1934, disposition unknown.


St. Joseph's R.C., French, est. 1868, in 1956 became St. Joseph the Worker Shrine.  Bldg. bought 1868, a very fine stone structure on Lee St., from Second Unitarian (q.v.), twice enlarged;  the left side wall was removed and a new nave built at right angles to that of the original church;  the rear gallery has been partially removed and the remainder walled off.

        1st organ:  Unknown builder, (probably Stevens) from the Unitarians;  Lowell Daily Courier, 12/13/1873, says organ “of the church is being improved in capacity and otherwise made more perfect in Boston”;  moved 1887 to St. Joseph’s parochial school, Moody St.

*P         2nd organ:  Hook & Hastings #1354, 1887, 3-41, $6000;  Spencer blower 1911,  moved to Notre Dame by Kershaw, later destroyed except for Choir division which had been installed at 1st Baptist.


St. Joseph's R.C., est. 1908, a Lithuanian Parish, 151 Rogers St., at Concord St., scheduled to be merged into Immaculate Conception in 1999.

*         1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook, 18 stops, second-hand.  A blower was installed here in 1919 by J.D.Brennan who listed the make of organ as Hook and this is probably when the organ was installed.

*         2nd organ:  Estey, a 2nd hand theatre organ of 19 ranks, installed by Essex Organ Co.;  the console was removed and a Hammond installed but pipes were still present within 40 years.


St. Louis de France, est. 1904, lst bldg. at 6th St. at Boisvert St., being the lower floor only of a massive granite structure;  2nd bldg., c1950, a reconstruction of the previous bldg. with a higher ceiling but no second floor in a different architectural style resulting in a grossly ill-conceived appearance.

*         1st organ:  Ryder, 1m, from St. Michael's (?).  Replaced by Wurlitzer electronic.

*         2nd organ:  Estey, second-hand, installed by Laws.

*         3rd organ:  Kershaw, rebuild of previous organ with unsuccessful tonal changes;  not used since c1985.  Electronic instruments near the front have been in use since then.   


St. Margaret's R.C., est. 1910;  bldg., 380 Stevens St.

*S         Organ:  Estey #2075, 1923, 2m, not used since about 1990, destroyed 1997.


St. Marie R.C., est. 1906, a French Parish;  75 Chamberlain St., South Lowell;  reorganized 1931, 1st bldg., 185 Woburn St., a basement only;  2nd bldg., recent, nearby.  nko


St. Mary's R.C., est. 1847, a mission of St. Patrick's;  bought brick bldg. with a tall steeple, seats for 1000, on Lowell St. at Suffolk St., constructed in 1833 by Second Baptist, sold 1837 to Second Methodist, rented 1843 to Second Wesleyan Methodist.  St. Mary's was suppressed c1865 as a result of a notorious controversy between Fa. McDermott, the pastor, and the Bishop.  It was reopened about 1880 for  few years but converted to a school before 1888, and

        finally torn down c1940.

*         1st organ:  Thomas Appleton 1824, 3rd-hand from Federal St. Baptist Church, Boston;  sold to Weymouth R.C.

*         2nd organ:  ?  obtained 2nd-hand in 1859 for $4500, said to be the best organ in the city;  disposition unknown.


St. Michael's R.C., est. 1883, temporarily used building on 5th St.;  6th St.  brick bldg., lower church 1884, upper church 1900.

*S         1st organ,  lower church: Geo. H. Ryder #117, 1884, 1m, 5r, still there in 1897;  L.D.C., 12/26/1885, presents a stoplist of the organ and the comment “this is one of the smallest church organs in the city, but by no means the least effective” along with a list of other Ryder organs in the city.  (The Ryder organ still in use in Byfield Methodist Church is the same size and stoplist and its astonishing loudness demonstrates the meaning of this comment.)  This organ believed to have gone to St. Louis Church, 6th St., in 1913.

*         2nd organ, lower church: James Cole, 1913, 2m, 6r, tracker; probably taken in trade by Laws.

*P         3rd organ, lower church: W.W.Laws, c1938, a 10 rank electrified 2m tracker organ with pipework from various sources, perhaps mostly from the previous Cole. 

{Prior to Vatican II, many large R.C. churches held Sunday Masses simultaneously on the hour in the upper church and on the half hour in the lower church in order to have sufficient capacity for all the attendants.  After Vatican II, it was permissible for Masses to be held on Saturday afternoon and evening and qualify for the weekend obligation.  Then many churches discontinued Sunday Masses in the lower church and the lower church organs were then unnecessary although some remained for decades seldom or never used.  At St. Michael’s, the organ remained in the lower church still playable until 1986 when the upper church organ was being repaired, enlarged, and tonally revised.  Then the manual windchests, reservoir, and many of the pipes became part of the upper church organ and sale of the console, blower, and many pipes helped provide funding for the upper church organ upgrading.}

*P         1st organ, upper church:  Hook (?), 3m (?);  2nd-hand, installed 1900, probably by Wm. B. Goodwin;  the photograph consists of a copy of the picture included in the newspaper article on the dedication and is actually a sketch made by the reporter who said the organ was "nearly new" (although the style of the case suggests a date in the 1860s) and contained 2000 pipes.  Removed probably to make room for a choir;  no effort to sell or salvage this organ is known.

*PS         2nd organ, upper church:  James Cole, 1913, 3m, 16 ranks, electropneumatic with detached reversed console. Although this organ blocked only the center window whereas the previous organ had blocked all three, it is probable that this organ was removed to make the central rear window visible for installation of stained glass which eventually included the entire church and was complete before 1970.  Disposition unknown.  A newspaper ad in 1913 indicated that James Cole was about to install a new organ in this church and needed to get rid of the organ at that time present, a two manual instrument not apparently the organ installed in 1900.  This leaves it unclear what organs were installed in 1900 and 1913.  Research will continue.

*S         3rd organ, upper church: W.W.Laws, rebuild and installation of Hook & Hastings #1167, 1883, 2-25, formerly in Christ Church, Cambridge.  Many pejorative tonal changes were made;  3m console although organ remained two manuals.

*S         4th organ, upper church:  Andover Organ Co. and R. J. Reich, organist of the church, addition of chests from lower church organ to provide a third division with revoicing of all stops and provision of 11 additional stops with pipes from both organs and several others;  e.g., the new Great Mixture was made from old Stevens pipes and the Choir Clarinet from Hall pipes.  This is one of only two organs in Lowell Catholic churches remaining in regular use at this time.


St. Patrick's R.C., aka First Catholic, organized 1832;  1st bldg. 1831, Fenwick St., rb. 1834;  2nd bldg. 1854.

*         1st organ:  Ebenezer Goodrich, 1831, moved to new church.

*         2nd organ:  George Stevens, 1847, 22 registers, $1400 (L.D.C. 9/18/47), in lower church of new bldg.

*         3rd organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #257, 1859, 3m, 38reg., 28r;  valued at $3000 in 1865;  burned 1904;  some pipes salvaged and incorporated into a Cole organ in Chelmsford (whether Episcopal or Unitarian not known).

*         4th organ:  Jesse Woodberry & Co., #199, 1901, (built for stock), lower church, 2m, 7r, sold 1980, removed by Mann and Trupiano.

*         5th organ:  Jesse Woodberry & Co., #235, 1905, 4m, $11000;  51 stops (on blower order);  3m console installed c1960 by Kershaw;  in 1999 still used occasionally (?) although almost unplayable because of cyphers in the ventil chests.


St. Peter's R.C., aka Second Catholic, organized 1841;  1st bldg. 1842 of brick at Gorham and Appleton Sts., had small tower, torn down 1890;  2nd bldg., wood, for temporary use while 1st bldg. was torn down to make a place for the 3rd bldg.;  later may have become St. Anthony's R.C.;  3rd bldg., lower church 1892, upper church 1900,

         an immense structure of granite;  torn down c1994.  The parish was decimated by urban redevelopment and construction of an Interstate Highway Business Spur nearby which caused destruction of a huge neighborhood of mostly old houses leading to rapid shrinking of the church membership and finally suppression of the parish c1988.

*P         1st organ:  George Stevens, 1842, 2m, 15r, in 1st bldg., moved to 3rd bldg. lower church; see L.D.C., 2/24/1890;  case installed 1993 for a rebuilt 1870 Simmons organ at Yarmouth, Me., Congregational, by Andover Organ Co.

*S          2nd organ:  George Stevens, 1883, 1m, 5 1/2r, believed installed in 2nd bldg. and sold with bldg. to St. Anthony's R.C. where it survived until c1980.

*SP         3rd organ:  Hook & Hastings #1848, 1899, 3m, 48s, electric action with slider chests, releathered c1950 by Rostron Kershaw who provided a new console;  removed c1991 by Andover Organ Co. and partially installed  in Sandwich, MA, R.C.

*         4th organ:  Estey #3076, 1937, 2m, in the case of the 1842 Stevens organ;  rebuilt with new console by Kershaw;  dispersed c1995.


St. Rita's Shrine, organized 1912 as St. Columba's R.C.Church, 162 Mammouth Rd., name changed 1925.

*S         Organ:  Hook & Hastings #1425, 1889, 2m, 17reg., 10r, from New Presbyterian, Winston, N.C., electrified by ?;  not in use for many years but repaired and again in use since c1994 having miraculously survived two electronic substitutes.  One of two organs in R.C. churches in Lowell still in regular use.





St. Patrick's R.C., bldg. 20th cent., stone, seats about 450.

*         Organ:  AEolian-Skinner #3017, 2nd-hand;  2m, 3r, 207p.





St. William R.C. Church, est. 1935, 1351 Main St., nko





St. Mary Magdalen R.C. Church, est. 1959, 250 Tyngsboro Rd., nko.







First Parish Church, Concord Rd., gathered 1655, organized 1663; 1st bldg. 1659;  4th bldg. 1797, burned 12/27/1967, 5th bldg. 1970.

*         1st organ:  Hook #2, 1829, came c1869 from  St. Paul's Epis. or 1st Cong., Burlington, Vt.;  went to Swedish Cong., Lowell.

*PS         2nd organ:  S.S.Hamill, #169, 1869, 2m, 13r, $2400, somewhat rebuilt 1886 by S.S.Hamill as #369.

*         3rd organ:  Andover Organ Co., 1957, renovations with tonal changes, burned 1967.

*P         4th organ:  Emmons Howard from First Methodist, Holyoke, Mass., 1890, 2m, rebuilt and installed by Andover Organ Co., using many pipes salvaged from previous organ as well as new pipes, some from the Howard, and some from other old organs, with assistance from OCH.





First Parish, Unitarian,

*         1st organ:  unknown;  50 years ago there was a very strange case in front of the organ in the rear gallery, part of which looked very early, i.e., c1830-40.  This case may have contained portions from the first organ.

*         2nd organ:  James Cole, pneumatic (?), front right, facade of Diapason pipes with no wood except verticals and a horizontal bar.

*         3rd organ: E. W. Lane, 1899, probably a rebuild of the Cole, located in rear in a case probably contrived by whoever moved the organ to the rear;  this may imply that the original organ survived until then.

*         4th organ:  Wicks, 5 rank unit, in rear;  no case.





Unitarian Church

*         1st   Organ:  William Stevens, c1856, lm, 12 drawstops.  See L.D.C., 6/10/1886

*        2nd  Organ:  Woodbury and Harris, c 1890







All Souls Church, Congregational-Unitarian;  formed 1919 by merger of First Unitarian and High St. Cong. at the bldg. of the latter (see Fifth Cong.).

        Organ:  E. M. Skinner #299, 1919;  rebuilt by Kershaw c 1950.


First Unitarian, aka South Congregational, org. 1832;  bldg. 1832, 46 Merrimack St., seated 900, a store front type bldg. with shops on the lower floor and entrance to the church on one side;  later modified to have entrance on the street side so that other buildings could be constructed on either side of it;  still in existence in commercial use;  combined 1919 with High St. Cong. at High St. bldg. to form All Souls Church.

*         1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #9, 1832, 2m, 24 reg., cost $1800, in rear;  sold to Graniteville Methodist (Goodwin) and assumed to have been removed when Hook #423 was installed.  Perhaps actually only the

        latter organ was ever installed in Graniteville and this confusing information here resulted from unclear entries on Goodwin's list.

*  S         2nd organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #423, 1867, 2m, 26 reg.;  the stoplist and other details appear in the Lowell Daily Courier, 9/28/1867;  sold to Graniteville Methodist (Goodwin);  destroyed c1950, except for case which was moved back to the wall and remained until c1975 when it was sold to the Andover Organ Co. and in 1987 installed by AOC in Trinitarian Congregational Church of North Andover.


Second Unitarian, aka Church of the Pilgrims, aka Lee Street Church;  organized 1846 at Bank Building;  bldg. on Lee St., 1850;  stone, seated 600;  church closed 1861;  bldg. used by Spiritualists 1864-68;  sold 1868 to St. Joseph's R.C. (q.v.).

*         Organ: Stevens, 1850 or 1851, L.D.C. 2/3/51 mentions a project to pay off the balance on the organ.  Mentioned in city directories of 1856 and 1859;  cost $1200,  disposition unknown.  (Replaced 1887 by St. Joseph’s R.C.)


Unity Congregational, organized 1895, bldg. 1896 at 118 Church St.;  1906 church closed, perhaps earlier.

        Organ:  ?




Tyngsboro Unitarian;  church recently closed;  reed organ, 2m&p.  Bldg. in use by a Korean church.







Billerica Universalist, had bldg. c1850, closed early 20th century, bldg. went to Billerica Baptist, became St. Theresa's R.C. c1945, later used as parish hall, now in other use.

·   Organ:  Said to have had small Stevens organ;  disposition unknown.





First Universalist, organized 7/1827;  1st bldg. 1827 on Chapel St., wood, moved 1837 to Central and Green Sts.;  site taken for new Boston and Lowell R.R. station;  seated 630;  2nd bldg. 27 Hurd St. near Central 1872-4;  1945 joined with Grace Univ. to form 1st Grace Univ. at bldg. of Grace.

*PS         1st organ:  George Stevens, 1840, 2-12, 5-sectional case, located in 3-sided gallery, disposition unknown.  Stoplist given in The World of Music, 7/25/1840, Bellows Falls, Vt.

*P         2nd organ:  Hutchings, Plaisted & Co., #51, 1874, exposed Great pipework in flamboyant arrangement;  2m, 27r, 1495 pipes (from dedication program found in Goodwin’s scrapbook, now in the archives of the OHS) ;  $1700;  in 1945 went to Notre Dame de Lourdes R.C. (q.v.).  L.D.C., 4/1/1880, mentions Boston Water Motor Co. blower motor.


Second Universalist, aka Shattuck St. Universalist, organized 1836;  1st bldg. 1838, Shattuck and Market Sts., had steeple, seated 600, became Casto Theatre, eventually torn down;  2nd bldg. 1896, Princeton Blvd., name changed to Grace Universalist at this time;  1945 merged with 1st Universalist to form First Grace Universalist at Grace bldg.;  c1966 it absorbed the Unitarian part of All Souls Church to become the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Lowell;  c1969 sold bldg. to St. George Greek Orthodox and subsequently met in a residential building;  no longer listed in telephone directory.

*         1st organ:  E.&G.G.Hook #74, 1846, $1500, went to Fitchburg Universalist.  (See L.D.C., 10/11/1886.)

*PS         2nd organ:  George Stevens, 1885;   2m, 27reg, 22r;  1376 pipes, $2500, equipped with Backus  rotary water motor;  this was the 28th Stevens in the city;  See L.D.C., 12/4/1886 for dedication program and some organ details.  Moved to new bldg. 1896.  Organ still present according to reports but unused since sale of bldg.


Third Universalist, organized 1844, gone by 1853;  bldg. 1844 or 5 on Merrimack St. at Central;  sold 1853 to Second Wesleyan Methodist, l854 to Central Methodist, later known as Barrister's Hall, partially rented to Union Free Baptist.

Organ:  L.D.C. 6/12/1845 mentions organ dedication;  Bos. Mus. Gaz. 1/18/1847 mentions Stevens;  dedication concert given to raise money for the new organ (Lowell Courier, 6/12/45);  bldg. had 2nd-hand organ in 1859.  Central Methodist paid  $200 for the organ.






First Pentecostal, after 1922 called Church of the Nazarene, organized 1903;  bldg. 1907, 51 First St.;  now Spanish Church of the Nazarene.  nko


Free Chapel, nondenominational, organized 1844 by Lowell Missionary Society, listed in 1845 as Unitarian;  1887 called Ministry at Large Chapel;  1889, Ministry at Large Church;  1901 Free Church;  1940 gone;  bldg. c1844 150 Middlesex St. between South and Eliot Sts.;  in recent years occupied by Lowell Nursing Assoc.;  believed razed 1970-1980.

Organ:  ?   Lowell Daily Courier, 7/16/1869, mentions fundraising for an organ.  LDC, 4/1/76, said organ not very good.  Vox Populi, said second organ was good.


People's Church, aka Primitive Baptist, undenominational;  1637 Middlesex St.  nko


Seventh Day Adventist, Liberty at School Sts., c1965 took over bldg. of Swedish Lutheran (q.v.).

        Organ:  May retain Morton theatre organ.


St. Cosmos or St. Kazimierz Polish National, organized 1908;  1st bldg. 1908 Rogers and Concord Sts., sold to St. Joseph's Lithuanian R.C.;  2nd bldg., Lakeview Ave., 19ll.

*         Organ:  S. S. Hamill, not known which bldg.  Gone.





Lowell Municipal Auditorium, Merrimack St., 1922, still in use.

        Organ:  Emmons Howard, 1922, 4m, installed by Burton Witham of Portland, Me., had console on elevator platform;  it was in basement position at the time of the 1938 hurricane which was accompanied by a flood;  this destroyed the console;  the organ was not repaired and the pipes were dispersed over the years.


Masonic Temple;  1st bldg. 1872, burned 1890;  2nd bldg. 1890, burned 1927;  3rd bldg. 1928.

*         1st organ:  Geo.Stevens 1872, 1m.  Different sources say taken in trade by Ryder or rebuilt into a larger organ.

*         2nd organ:  Geo.H.Ryder #28, 1874, Wm. B. Goodwin, consultant, burned 1890.

*         3rd organ:  Geo.H.Ryder #167, 2m, 19r, designed by Goodwin;  burned 1927.

*         4th organ:  Kimball, Smallman, &Frazee #18, 1913, 2-24reg., exists.

        A separate processional division at the rear of the hall was provided.

         It would appear that there were two organs at the same time from 1913 to 1927.


Notre Dame Academy, next to St. Patrick's Church, bldg. now gone.

Organ:  Hook & Hastings #741, 1874, 2-12reg., 8r., disposition unk.



Odd Fellows Hall.  This is a charitable organization of English origin having some similarities to the Masons.  In some locations, they used organs for their ceremonies.  In Lowell, there were four Halls, one at 75 Middlesex St. and one at 361 Bridge St. and one in the west end as well as an earlier one near Middlesex St.   It is known that they had an organ in one of them (LDC, 3/23/1886).  These buildings are now gone and we can only guess that the one on Middlesex St., by far the largest, was the probable home of the organ.



University of Lowell, Music Building c1973.  The University discontinued its School of Music about 25 years ago and the practice organs not used since.

*S         1st organ:  Wicks, 1978, 2m&p, 1r, tracker, practice organ.

*S         2nd organ:  Wicks, identical to above.

*SP         3rd organ:  Schlicker, 1978, 2m, 12r, tracker, in Recital Hall.





Capitol Theatre, 396 Middlesex St.;  organ:  Wurlitzer, Opus 1481, 1926;  repossessed, moved to Orpheum Theatre, Danvers, 1928


Casto Theatre, formerly 2nd Universalist Church;  organ believed removed previously.


Colonial Theatre, 84 Middlesex St.


Crown Theatre, 72 Middlesex St., Organ:  Kilgen #4148, 1928, 2m, 3r.


Gates Theatre


Kasino Theatre, 99 Thorndike


Keith Theatre,  25-27 Bridge St.


Lowell Opera House, 347 Central St.;  1st organ:  Wurlitzer, opus 55, 1915, sold 1932 to Pasaic, N.Y.;  2nd organ:  Frazee, 4m., 1932


Merrimack Square Theatre, 146 Paige;  organ:  Wurlitzer, opus 577, 1922, junked;  opus 980, 1924, junked.


New Jewell, 507 Merrimack


Owl, 246 Central


Palace Theatre


Rialto Theatre,


Royal Theatre, 488 Merrimack


Strand Theatre, 128 Central, organ:  Austin #725, 1917, 3m, 19r, destroyed 1981.


Victory Theatre, 49 E. Merrimack, organ:  Wurlitzer, opus 1729, 1827, repossessed, moved to St. Anthony’s, Everett, 1932





Joseph Ely,  Organ:  Hutchings, Plaisted & Co. #15, 1872, 2m-28reg., its arrival was celebrated 11/8/71(L.D.C.), sold to 5th St. Baptist Church where it burned in 1979 and was replaced with an electronic substitute.


R. S. Fox,  Organ:  Goodrich chamber organ, 1m, 4r, from Geo. Metcalf residence.


A.F.French, organ:  put together by Wm. B. Goodwin for Pres. French of Lowell Normal School from a 9 rank E. W. Lane organ and a large old slider chest, possibly Stevens, to form a 3m tracker organ which at present writing remains in the house at 213 Parkview Ave.  This may be the same organ described below under Dr. O’Leary.  The organ was still present about 20 years ago but sale was being negotiated.


William B. Goodwin,  Organ:  Stevens, 1m, from Geo. Hedrick res.


George Hedrick, 75 Chestnut St., became residence of Wm. B. Goodwin;  organ:  Stevens 1838, 1m, 4r, from a local church, said

         by John Goodwin to have been first Stevens organ in Lowell, said church probably having been Worthen St. Baptist;  broken up.


John Baker Hill, who died in 1/16/40, had an organ in his blacksmith shop.  Not known whether this was a part of his residence nor any details of the organ.


George Metcalf,

*         1st organ:  Goodrich chamber organ, 1m, 4r, went to R.S.Fox residence or:  R.S.Fox was Metcalf's associate and successor in the insurance business so it may be the organ was not moved when Fox took over at the death of Metcalf.

*         2nd organ:  Stevens organ from St. Anne's Church, rebuilt by Coburn, Cole, and Goodwin, later went to Centralville Meth. Ch.


Dr. O'Leary,

*         1st organ:  E.W.Lane, 1908, 3-18;  since Lane was working for Hutchings in 1908, this may have been an earlier smaller organ rebuilt in 1908.  Marty Walsh asks if this is the same organ as the one listed above for A.F.French.

*      2nd organ:  Jesse Woodberry & Co., 3m, 23r, moved in 1915 from J. Ritchie residence, Warren St., Roxbury.





Huntington Hall, corner of Merrimac and Dutton St., a large hall three or four stories in height, constructed as the upper part of the Boston & Lowell Railroad passenger station.  There was a controversy about 1880 on whether to purchase and install in this space the old English organ then available that had been in Old South Church, Boston, for some years.  It was sold instead to St. Mary’s, Milford, MA, but an article in the Lowell Daily Courier of 10/17/1881 refers to efforts for the purchase by the City of Lowell for installation in Huntington Hall “the centennial organ built by H. L. Roosevelt”.  The article says that “this organ has been purchased by the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association” and it is known that it was installed in Boston.  No information yet discovered indicates definitely that any organ was actually installed in Huntington Hall and it is therefore assumed that this never happened.  By 1920 this building was gone and the site occupied by the new YMCA.


Summary:  Total known organs in the City of Lowell:  148

        Largest number of organs existing at the same time, about 65 in 1910

        Number of three manual organs, 16

        Number of four manual organs, 9

        Number of organs existing now:  18

        Number of organs in use now:  11


                 For Lowell alone, this list contains 164 organs including some that were rebuilt and enlarged and so are counted twice but there were probably a few others that escaped notice and it may be that a few are included that really never existed. So the counts are likely to be off by a few, one way or the other.  Further research may refine the list to some extent but the present information is useful nevertheless.  The compilation below gives some indication of how the number of organs varied over the years. 


Lowell organs existing and in use:


1820           0                                                      1920                    65

1830           2                                                      1930                    62

1840           12                                                      1940                    50

1850           21                                                      1950                  44

1860           23                                                      1960                    36

1870           29                                                      1970                    31

1880           39                                                      1980                    21

1890           50                                                      1990                    16

1900           59                                                      2000                    13

1910           65                                                       2010                    11


                This shows that there was a gradual increase in total number of organs in the city up to 1910 and a gradual decline after that.  The maximum was about 65 in the 1910-20 period and the present count is 11 in use and seven no longer in use but in peril.  This represents a loss of over 80% in about 100 years, a loss that is likely to continue. 

                When the city was founded in 1823, there were a few small villages as well as farms in the entire area that became Lowell. The earliest church in the present city was already in existence, Pawtucket Church in the area still called Pawtucketville.  Lowell was founded with the help of the state legislature which incorporated portions of Chelmsford, Dracut, Tyngsboro, and Tewksbury into the new city of Lowell, named for its founder, leader of a group of Boston industrialists.  It was the world’s first planned industrial city and planning began immediately followed at once by construction of the first textile mills.  Planning included such things as roads, dams, canals, parks, and churches.

The planners expected large numbers of young people to leave the farms where they were living to become part of this great city.  People did come as fast as work was created for them.  They came not only from the farms of New England but from many foreign countries as well.  St. Anne’s Episcopal church was the official church of the city and it gave birth to dozens of other churches of many denominations and ethnicities.  The city itself has continued to grow to nearly 120 thousand at the present time.

        As St. Anne’s grew and other churches joined it nearby, there became a need for organs.  As the mill complexes grew so grew the population and in those days most people affiliated with churches of their choice and thus the Christian religion in the area strengthened and expanded.  So it would seem that the number of churches and organs would have increased continually as long as the textile industry grew.  But two unexpected things happened:  (1) the textile industry in the 1920s and -30s stopped expanding and collapsed with mill companies relocating in southern states and eventually importing finished textiles from overseas.  Very quickly the number of textile workers dropped off as the jobs disappeared.  These were years of hard times when there were large numbers of unemployed workers who only gradually found work in other types of industries.  (2) The churches lost their grip on the population.  Indeed, in the early days of the city, over 90% of the people were active church goers but with the decline of the Christian religion this has dropped to less than 10% now.  As a result, the number of churches in the city has fallen by more than 50% and many of the remaining churches are struggling to exist with too few members to sustain them.  The effect of these two trends simultaneously has caused the disastrous drop in the number of organs.  A third trend has more recently affected the perceived need for organs:  electronic reproduction and creation of music has caused the loss of many fine traditional organs. 

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a continuous series of waves of immigration from many foreign countries.  More recently these waves of immigration have continued but there is a big difference in the nature of the ethnic groups arriving.  The earlier groups consisted mostly of Europeans with strong ties to the Christian religion.  Many of the more recent groups come from countries where the dominant religion is Muslem;  others bring religious ties to Hindu or Confucianism.  Thus the earlier tendency was to establish various ethnic Christian churches mostly with ties to the historic Christian music traditions whereas most of the newly arrived groups establish places of worship that do not have any connection with Christian music.  The organ is not to be found in their culture and many such new churches, buying old buildings with organs, soon sell the organ because it is not in their tradition and they want the space for other forms of music.

Now is a sad time for those who appreciate and value organs for their intrinsic beauty, both in sound and visually.  During the heyday of the organ, it would appear that the general populace had an interest in organs quite unknown today.  Newspaper articles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries appeared frequently telling of upgrading various organs.  Some organs were returned to their makers in order to make them better or larger.  Others were replaced with new organs of larger size.  Two manual organs gave way to three manual organs and in several cases to huge organs of four manuals.  Such large organs were not needed for church services but only for elaborate organ music that may have been heard in preludes and postludes.  The newspapers frequently announced organ concerts which allowed and even demanded the use of such large resources in the organs of the larger churches.  Organs must have had a much greater impact on the public in those days than now.  They were being paid for by the people of the city so apparently the people wanted large organs and loved to hear them.  This list shows that many of the churches began with small two manual or even one manual organs and replaced them with larger instruments at great expense.  Especially in the case of the Roman Catholic churches, there seems to have been a feeling of a need to have a larger and better organ than any other church.  This couldn’t happen unless there was much interest among the general public and a willingness even among the poor to provide the financial resources necessary to create such great instruments.  In those days there was no radio, no television, no moving pictures, no internet, no CDs or phonograph records.  The public was deeply involved in an organ culture which gradually disappeared in the years following 1920.  Even the University which acquired three new organs less than fifty years ago scarcely uses them now.  The list shows that many churches having splendid instruments allowed them to become disused or destroyed with no significant dissent.  In the last 90 years, the churches and society as a whole allowed the loss of this great cultural resource created in the previous 90 years.

        The decline in the number of organs in the city from more than 60 to only a dozen represents a cultural and artistic loss of enormous proportions.  Only if those few who still value the organ for its beauty and artistic abilities will grasp the meaning of these declining statistics and become active in favor of organs will those few that survive today remain in years to come for our children and grandchildren.


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